No charges for St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese in sex abuse cases

National Catholic Reporter

Brian Roewe | Jan. 30, 2014

Prosecutors in two Minnesota counties announced Wednesday that they will not pursue criminal charges against the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese for failure to report clergy sex abuse allegations of two priests.

The investigations pertained to whether the archdiocese fulfilled its mandatory reporter duties in regard to two much-publicized cases: Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer and Fr. Jonathan Shelley. Details related to both men surfaced through documents and files provided to Minnesota Public Radio by former archdiocesan chancellor Jennifer Haselberger.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Washington County Prosecutor Pete Orput said at a press conference he has closed the investigation into whether Shelley’s computer contained pornographic images of minors after determining that none of the files met the statutory definition of what constitutes “pornographic work involving a minor.” The investigation, which had previously closed in February 2013, reopened in October when the parishioner who originally reported the files to the archdiocese provided police an additional cache of photos.

It was Haselberger who had alerted police and who, in February 2012 and again that May, urged the archdiocese to report to police the files on Shelley’s computer that a private investigator in 2004 had determined “could be considered borderline illegal, because of the youthful male image.” The archdiocese has contended that the images in question were unsolicited pop-up ads that attached to the hard drive without permission.

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